Already found the hard drive, but i'm unsure what the easiest way to transfer the data is.
A method i considered is:
Buy a used ps3 with the same capacity as my current one.
Then transferring the data from my current console onto the used console.
I'd double-check the data onthe used console, then install the new hard drive in my current console.
Then i'd double check if my current console is working with the new hard drive
Then transfer all the data from the used console back onto my current console (that now has the new hard drive in it).
THEN i'd double check the data on teh current console, format the used console and return it.
Would that work? I don't have an external drive big enough to hold 120 gigs of data. Would it be easier to transfer it to the new hard drive via some sort of usb adapter? I've heard that the ps3 will format a hard drive upon removal and i don't wanna lose all my save data, rock band songs, PS+ games, etc. I know i can re-download most of that stuff, but that would be TEDIOUS.
It'd be MUCH easier to get a refund on a used console than a new external drive.
I'm leary of used consoles perhaps having hardware issues. I don't know what the previous owners have done to / with them. I've never had an issue with my PS3 (which i bought new maybe 2 years ago) and i don't mind adding a step or two for peace of mind. Also, if i used a second console to transfer, i'd still have to return a console. I highly doubt they'd accept a return on a used console with a different serial number.
If there is nothing wrong with your current PS3, buy a new internal replacement HDD and the external device. Backup whatever media (movies, videos, pictures, etc) to the external HDD, back up your game saves to the PS+ cloud, and remember to also back up items like PSOne and PS2 save files.
Then put your new internal HDD in your current PS3. Then restore from the cloud (there may be some restrictions on protected data) and your external HDD. You will have to re-download games, patches, etc.
Keep your external HDD for regular backups and the like. You can also use it for other things besides your PS3.
I can't say that I support the rest. If you buy a used PS3, unless you are getting it from eBay, you should get some sort of warranty, however since you have no intent on keeping it, why do you care? Also, as soon as you put your HDD in another PS3 (i.e. different serial numbers), the PS3 will force you to format the HDD.
So i just snagged a CHEAP ps3 off craigslist, with the intention of selling it again once i do this hard drive switch. Is my original method still valid?
If all else fails, i did get a second blu-ray player for my house, a couple games i wanted (LBP, AC III, and the Ratchet & Clank Collection!!) for $120.